How to Develop Successful Experiential Marketing

Years ago, I worked for an ad agency that had developed a reputation for experiential marketing. Our work for very large brands was recognized in national press and industry publications. But in time, I came to recognize that our work was severely lacking. 

Experiential marketing should be included as part of an integrated plan, this is often considered an offline tool. It is just another element in reaching consumers through a brand’s marketing mix. Experiential marketing is about creating an experience that is new and unusual and leaves a lasting impression. This is different from hearing a spot on the radio or viewing content while streaming music on a portable device because it actively involves the target audience. In many cases, experiential marketing will allow the consumer to use a product or service.

Examples of experiential marketing:

  • A branded beer garden at an outdoor event.
  • Signing up for a free subscription to a video on demand service at an event.
  • Photo booth posting photos on social media.
  • Truck with solar panels to generate hot water (we did this for a utility).
  • Red Bull events (just pick one).

In two of the events listed, getting the consumer’s information was essential. In the others, how to capture the data can also be included.

In our case of a few years back, I came to recognize that our work, while it garnered the attention of consumers, in reality, was nothing more than a short-lived stunt. It was good so long as we had the attention of our audience and disappeared once the consumers were on their way. What about the ROI? Unfortunately, many expensive are designed similarly.

A key factor in experiential marketing is that it rarely leads to an immediate sale, so it is best practice to establish realistic goals in the planning phase (e.g. online mentions through social media, free PR, product sampling). The experiential engagement should include the opportunity to capture consumer data to create an ongoing relationship. While having a big budget helps, it’s more important to make your experience memorable.


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